by Wesley Roberts
reviewed on PC
A topic we don't like to talk about, but is inevitable; Death. Death is a part of all RPG's, and this game deals with it very nicely. Upon the death of any party member besides your hero, you have the option for Resurrection with a scroll, or return to the Necromancer in town, and have him perform the spell. When any party member dies, a tombstone is placed at the location where the party member died and all items carried or worn are dropped there also. No experience is lost when this occurs. The only penalty is time lost to get back in the fight. If your entire party should die, you will be instantly transported to the Necromancer. Once you are visiting the Necromancer, you can choose to either have him revive your character at the low price of 25% of your current gold, or return to the place where you died and instantly regain your items. A welcome feature is that when your party dies and goes back to the Necromancer, you can save your position and quit. Upon returning to the game, your party regains all items and is placed at the Necromancer.
The scripting for the cut-scenes is great. I'm one of those gamers that have the habit making sure that I view all cut scenes. The developers went to a lot of effort to make them, so I make sure to watch them, at least once. I'm happy to note that Gas Powered Games hasn't wasted my time and viewing them is well worth it.
When you go to begin your game you'll notice that there are three options for starting points. You'll only be allowed to start at the lowest level for the first time through. Once you've completed the game, the developers have made it to where you can use the same hero for a second, and subsequent third time through. Each go 'round will have successively harder monsters to kill. So, don't sell off that weapon at the end of the game your first time through.
Lush, rich, full of life
The ambiance in Dungeon Siege II is much the same as the original but with the improved engine, everything looks crisp, lush and full of life. However, all the lush landscape, comes at a price; Visibility. Often I had to spin my view to get an object out of my line of vision so I could click on the bad guy. Fortunately the interface lets you do this with minimal effort and you rotate, elevate, and get to an almost top down view. I scroll it out as far as possible only because the enemy will attack you sometimes just outside the viewable area. Even with that, each item you wear is not only represented on your paper doll model, but also your character. So, when you wear that silly looking wizards cap, it is viewable on your paper doll, but you can also see Mr. Pointy, on your head, in-game. The forests are lush, to the point of being obstructive.
The interface is fairly straightforward, and intuitive. As you go through the tutorial, you'll be introduced to the finer points of the key map. You can change almost all the key commands to anything else, the mapping even allows for two different keys to do the same action, if you wish. The original game allowed for selecting all or part of your party, you can still do this, but it's not as neat and clean. There are basically two ways to form and move. Either Mirror Mode, where all party members attack the same baddie, or Rampage Mode, where everyone shoots whatever is moving. Either way is effective, in battle.
An adventure you shouldn't miss
It's hard not to notice how much work and detail has been put into the music and sound effects of Dungeon Siege II. Everything sounds so lively that you really get drawn into the game. Almost all the individuals you will meet have voiceover work for your first encounter. When you enter a fight, the music changes into something that will get your blood pumping, and the ambient sounds while running through the jungle make you want to swat those annoying mosquitoes.
As for major plot points, half the fun is in the playing. But I'll give you this much, once the tutorial is complete, you will be placed in jail, all items will be taken. You'll have to earn the respect of your captors to be released from your bonds, and maybe they will even return some of your items.
I could easily double the size of this review, there's 'that' much to see and do, but I'll finish here. It's better to let you go and have you buy and enjoy the game. Between the excellent sound, music and ambiance, satisfaction is almost guaranteed. Add to that the fact that true RPG's are few and far between, and you know you can't pass this one up.
No Pros and Cons at this time